Nothing. Zero. A Like on Facebook has zero value.
Yet so many brands are obsessed with Likes, as if this is the ultimate indicator of social media success. In award entries I judge, there are boasts of hundreds of thousands (or millions) of likes, which to me has all the credibility of a businessman boasting to his friends that a stripper in a gentleman’s club (has there ever been more of a misnomer?) winked at him. I know the love, or in this case the like, was bought. Most of the time, the more dollars you put into attracting (buying) Likes, the more Likes you will get. And Likes by themselves are of no value.
Before you slam me in 140 characters, let me explain.
No company has in its KPIs to get a certain number of Likes. Certainly the directors and shareholders don’t care. And a good marketing plan should be 100% aligned to the company KPI’s. So if this is the case, and it most definitely is, why on earth are Likes in situ a measure of success? Why are so many agencies also saying to their clients that a campaign is a success because it exceeded the anticipated number of Likes!
Likes should NEVER be a metric. If Facebook didn’t exist, Likes would not exist (well, in this form anyway), so using Likes as a metric is fundamentally flawed as it has no impact on a business. Likes are NOT a statement of intent, they are usually self-validation in behalf of the expressor. Avoid being seduced by this common misconception (hat tip to @eaonp)
This is not to say that Likes can’t produce value. They may have no inherent value, but they are a valuable step in the conversion process. But they are a stepping stone. Some people refer to Likes as akin to people in a doctors waiting room. But there is no point having a waiting room full of people if the doctor can’t see them, or even worse, if the doctor does see them but is unable to bill for their services.
Likes are simply a step on the path to advocacy. They are part of the Customer Relationship Management (while we are at it, let’s rename this to People Relationship Management) lifecycle. They are only become of value when their value is realised, which in 99.9% of cases means a contribution to a company’s revenue, directly or indirectly.
Citing Likes as a measure of success is cheating, lazy and disingenuous. What marketing managers could be asking their agencies, before they go about attracting (buying) Likes, is what are they going to do with the Likes to make the investment worthwhile? A lot of agencies struggle to answer this, so it is no wonder the C Level executives are questioning the worth of social media.
Likes by themselves aren’t worth a thing. But it is, as always, how you use it that counts.